A grand slam by rookie Jerry Sands, a scintillating MLB debut in a scoreless eighth inning by Rubby De La Rosa, and a scoreless ninth by rookie Javy Guerra led the Dodgers to a 5-4 win Tuesday night over the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The win snapped a three-game losing streak by the Dodgers, and provided a glimpse of hope in an otherwise dreary season to date for the Dodgers. Chad Billingsley pitched six innings for the victory, his first since April 22, but the story of the night was the performance of the three rookies.
Jerry Sands has been on fire of late. He hit his first major league home run on Saturday, added a four-hit game on Sunday, and walked three times on Monday. He punctuated his hot streak with a grand slam off J.A. Happ in the third inning tonight, a ball absolutely crushed to left center. After a relatively slow start, Sands is now hitting .239/.343/.413 on the season in 109 plate appearances.
The slam by Sands gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead, a lead that was trimmed to 5-4 by the sixth inning. After Mike MacDougal pitched a scoreless frame in the seventh, the stage was set for the major league debut of De La Rosa. The 22-year old was thrown into a pressure spot, up by one in the eighth inning, facing the 3-4-5 hitters in the Houston lineup. He shut them all down, with two strikeouts and a shattered bat grounder, a 13-pitch inning to retire the side.
De La Rosa, the Dodgers' 2010 minor league pitcher of the year, has been a starter all season, and would have pitched the ninth inning as well tonight had his spot not come up in the top of the ninth inning. The Dodgers threatened, loading the bases with two outs, but couldn't tack on an insurance run.
Enter Javy Guerra, making just his fifth major league appearance, to pitch the ninth inning. Guerra allowed a shot to Bill Hall with one out down the left field line that had home run distance, but was foul by a few feet. Strike two. Guerra needed just eight pitches, all strikes, to retire the side and pick up the save. Guerra was the sixth different Dodger to get a save in the last 23 days.
The Dodgers retired the final 12 Houston batters in the game. Casey Blake played six innings for Triple A Albuquerque in his second rehab game, going 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. He is expected back at some point during the upcoming homestand, which begins Friday at Dodger Stadium.
The grand slam by Sands was the first extra-base hit with the bases loaded by the Dodgers this season. Jay Gibbons also homered for the Dodgers, his first of the season, a solo shot in the second inning. These two teams play a rubber game Wednesday morning, an 11:05 a.m. PDT start, with Ted Lilly facing Aneury Rodriguez.
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